Twenty migrant workers returned to Delhi on Thursday after a city-based mushroom farmer, who had sent some of them to their home state Bihar by plane in May during the coronavirus-induced lockdown, booked air tickets again so that they can join back work here. In May this year, Pappan Singh had spent around Rs 68,000 on flight tickets of 10 migrant workers to send them to Bihar. This time however, he booked tickets for 20 of them to return.
Singh booked tickets worth over Rs 1 lakh so that the workers, who have toiled for him, some for over 20 years, can join him in farming mushrooms during the August to April season. Of the 20 workers, 10 of them flew for the first time, and arrived at the IGI Airport in Delhi in the evening. They will start working in the new mushroom farming season along with Singh in Delhi's Tigipur village.
While speaking, one of the workers, Raja Ram, said it was the first time he travelled on a plane, and was excited to join work. "There was no work in the village. For how long one can carry on without money. It is good to be back to work," the 22-year-old from Bihar's Samastipur district said. Ram said they had tried to book railway tickets to reach Delhi, but trains are not available for the next one-and-a-half-month.
He said seven more workers will fly into Delhi on September 1. Singh had also made travel arrangements for all 20 migrant workers to reach Patna airport from their native places. In Delhi, he sent five cars to pick them up from the airport. Singh said every year, he does mushroom farming on over three acres of land, but this time he is doing it on only on one acre of land as old stock of mushrooms is still with suppliers due to the closure of markets in view of COVID-19 restrictions in recent days.
"I treat my workers as part of my family as they have been working for me for 15 to 25 years. I could have arranged workers from here (Delhi) because I am doing mushroom farming on a small piece of land this year. "But, I have an emotional attachment with my workers and that is why I have booked their air tickets so that they can earn their livelihood while working here," he said.